Pioneering New House Building Model To Be Considered
30th July 2010
Highland Councillors are being asked to consider investigating the feasibility of a pioneering new model of providing much-needed affordable homes in the Highlands.
It could see a new build programme of 650 houses over a five year period.
The idea is for the Council to work with a private sector partner to release the equity currently tied up in its Council houses. As houses become vacant they would transfer to the private sector partner in return for a capital payment. The capital would be used to build new houses for let as Council tenancies.
A key point to note is that the Council would continue to allocate, manage and maintain the stock, based on agreed fees per unit to be paid to the council by the partner.
The transferred houses would be relet to applicants on the Highland Housing Register at rent levels pitched between the average council rent and private rents, currently estimated at £75 per week (charged over 52 weeks). The average council rent for the current financial year is £59.76 (over 52 weeks).
Properties would revert to Council ownership at nil cost after 25 years.
Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of the Council's Housing and Social Work Committee, said: "This is an interesting proposition that has come forward from our Housing and Property management team, which allows the Council to release equity on the asset value of council housing becoming vacant to relet to generate funds for new council house building. We estimate this could number 650 over a five year period, The number could be significantly increased if the Scottish Government continues to provide subsidy for Council house building.
"The Housing and Social Work Committee will be asked to agree to undertake and fund a full feasibility assessment on the equity release model as a means to deliver additional affordable housing in the Highlands. We would work closely with the Scottish Government in developing the model.
"We would then come back to the Committee with a detailed business case."
She stressed that addressing the shortage of affordable housing in the Highlands is one of the Council's key priorities.
She added: "Strengthening the Highlands" has a target of 2,000 new affordable homes by 2011. We are on target to meet this commitment, but have identified ongoing high levels of demand for additional housing for rent beyond 2011. Successive Local Housing Strategies have identified the need for additional housing supply as the main strategic issue in relation to housing."
The Highland Council and partners are advising motorists of temporary road closures and speed restrictions which will be in place this weekend 25 - 26 April during the Etape Loch Ness cycling event. The restrictions and prohibitions which are being put in place are for participants safety and to allow the Etape to take place on public roads.
"It's business as usual for the majority" is the message that multi-agency partners are conveying to the local community and visitors to Inverness following the fire on Academy Street last week. Businesses unaffected by the fire are open and trading as normal.
A record number of Highland electors have applied to vote by post for the UK Parliamentary elections on Thursday 7 May. A total 32,151 electors across the three Highland constituencies of Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross; Ross, Skye and Lochaber and Inverness, Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey will be receiving their postal votes from tomorrow (Tuesday 21 April) onwards.
The clockis counting down until the 20th April registration deadline for the UK Parliamentary general election the Electoral Commission and Bill Gillies, Electoral Registration Officer for Highland and Western Isles is calling for anyone who isn't yet registered to go online and do so at www.gov.uk/registertovote before itâ€™s too late. The elections watchdog has been running a national media campaign reminding voters that they canâ€™t take part in the election unless they have registered.
Issued on behalf of the Returning Officer, Highland People who have applied for a postal vote in Highland for the UK Parliamentary General Election are being urged by the Returning Officer for Highland, Steve Barron to check that they receive their ballot paper. Voters who applied for a postal vote on or before Tuesday 7 April 2015 will be sent their postal ballot paper on Monday 20 April via first class post and should receive it no later than Tuesday 21 April.
Following the fire on Academy Street in Inverness the Multi Agency Response Team, which includes representatives from Police Scotland, The Highland Council, Inverness BID, Stagecoach, Structural Engineers and other partners has been put into effect. Structural information has been obtained which has confirmed that, due to its condition, the building the fire broke out in requires scaffolding to be erected around it to make it safe.
A total of 19 candidates are seeking election on Thursday 7 May in the three Highland UK Parliamentary General Election constituencies. Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross constituency has attracted 5 candidates; Ross Skye and Lochaber constituency, 7 candidates; and Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency, 7 candidates.
The deadline for members of the public to share their views on The Highland Council's new Onshore Wind Energy Supplementary Guidance has been extended to Friday 22 May. Once approved, this guidance will be used for determining planning applications for wind energy development in Highland.
The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland has begun its consultation with councils on proposed wards for each council area as part of the 5th Reviews of Electoral Arrangements. Its proposals contain recommendations for councillor numbers in each of Scotland's 32 council areas and the number and boundaries of wards for the election of those councillors.
High Life Highland has unveiled expanded and improved facilities at Inverness Botanic Gardens. The new facility was officially declared open at a garland cutting ceremony by Provost of the City of Inverness, Councillor Alex Graham on Monday.
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